A Salad and a Tart from the Auvergne.

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Salad Ingredients.

1 Pear, 1 handful of toasted walnuts, 200gs of lardons, 2 cooked potatoes cut into small dice.

1 small cos lettuce,1/2 small shallot chopped and diced.100gs of cantal cheese.

Dressing.

1/2 small shallot diced.

1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar, 3 tablespoons of walnut oil, big pinch of salt, pepper to taste.

Method.

Put the diced shallot into a bowl and cover with hot water, this takes away the “rawness” of the shallot. About 5 minutes. Drain and add vinegar ,oil, salt and pepper.

Whisk well together.

Cook lardons in small amount of oil with the other half shallot.

Put potatoes, walnuts, and torn leaves of cos lettuce into the bowl with the dressing.

Add the warm lardons and shallot to the bowl.Mix well with dressing.

Slice the pear very thinly, leaving skin on.

Add pear slices and thin slices of cheese to the salad and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Tart of Red wine poached pears, Verveine scented walnut frangipane, with walnut pastry.

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People don’t often think of the Auvergne as a wine growing region. However it is one of the oldest wine growing ares of France, but the wines are little known outside of the region. The climate produces light and fruity wines . The reds are mainly made with the gamay grape. Click here for an extensive summary of the wines and the region.

Ingredients for the tart.

Red Wine Pears.

Start the pears a day ahead.

1 litre of red wine. Do not search for an expensive wine to do this, as the spiceswill take all nuances from the wine. A good Cabernet Sauvignon or Gamay are fine. Good Quaffing  that is.

220g of castor sugar, 1/2 cinnmon sicks, 3 star anise, peel of an orange.4 firm pears.

Bring the wine,castor sugar and spices to the boil in a large pan.Peel, halve and core pears. Add to the poaching liquid,

return to the boil, then simmer, covered, over low medium heat for about 5 mins.Leave pears to cool in liquid, then refrigerate overnight.

Walnut Pastry.

500gs of walnuts,70gs of castor sugar, 750gs of plain flour, 250gs of unsalted butter, at room temperature, 1 large egg.

Put the walnuts in food processor and pulse a few times.Add sugar and flour and continue to pulse until the nuts are finely ground.Place the mixture in a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle. It can be mixed by hand as well.

Add the softened butter, the egg and mix to incorporate the ingredients. Divide the dough into 3 parts. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before use. The dough can be frozen for later.

Verveine scented Frangipane.

Frangipane is an almond creamy filling used for tarts and cakes.

Usually flavoured with almond essence or a liquer of some sort such as calvados, but here I’m using the famous Auvergne Verveine de Velay. Which is made from many herbs including Lemon verbena andJuniper Berries.

250gs soft butter,250gs castor sugar, 3 eggs,3 yolks 2 teaspoons of Verveine de Velay,250gs groundalmonds, 90gs of plain flour (whisked together)

Cream the butter in food processor, add sugar pulse until light and fluffy. Mix the egg and yolks together and gradually add while machine is running to the butter mix.Add Verveine. Transfer to a bowl and fold in almond and flour mix.

To assemble the Tarts.

Preheat the oven to 180°c

Butter and flour  a 23cm tart tin with removable base.

Use your fingers to press the chilled dough into the tin evenly on the bottom and up the sides.

Put into the freezer for 15 mins.

Then take it out and spread the frangipane  evenly over the suface about 3/4 full.

Slice the drained pears and in a circular direction lightly push into the frangipane.

Bake in oven for 45 mins.Until filling is golden in colour and firm to touch.

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